Wisconsin FIRST Robotics, Inc. has one mission: to bring greater access to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to young Wisconsinites, through robotics.

Students have to design and build robots from scratch and compete with other teams statewide. The non-profit has had a presence in Wisconsin for about 25 years.

“There are already hundreds of teams participating in the various programs, all the way from Kindergarten up through high school,” said Jeff Fenstermaker, chairman of Wisconsin FIRST Robotics, Inc. “We would like to see more access to students and having a focused organization in the state, with local corporate and educational institutions supporting us will help.”

Wisconsin FIRST will organize after-school sessions and competitions for students four to 18 years old.

“The goal is to foster well-rounded capacities in young people, including self-confidence, communication and leadership,” Fenstermaker said.

Fenstermaker said FIRST has a global support system of mentors, coaches, volunteers and sponsors that include over 200 Fortune 500 companies.

Prior to the pandemic, 62 high school teams participated in the program.

“The program’s foundation is to generate excitement about science and technology by creating games and challenges, which change every year, involving robots,” he said. “Students have to design and build them from scratch and compete with other teams.”

The students are supported by engineers and other STEM-focused folks on how to apply technology to make those robots work, Fenstermaker added. For parents who want to get their children involved, go to firstinspireswi.org. ​ Click here to watch an accompanying video.